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Jul 16, 2010 11:12 AM

Is it just me? Kosher hamburger mystery...

On many occasions now, both at home and elsewhere, I have noticed that kosher hamburgers often turn egg-shaped (as opposed to round) once they are cooked. Having cooked non-kosher hamburger before, I am convinced that this is only in kosher burgers. Two brands in particular are Teva and ShopRite. Also, at the kosher cafeteria in my school, there has been the same phenomenon. The pre-made patties are perfectly circular before I cook them. Does this happen to you? Why?

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  1. Is your cooking technique the same? What about equipment? I am assuming that you are not cooking the kosher meat on the exact same equipment as the treif meat so I have to wonder what you might be doing slightly differently (different cooking temperatures, grilling vs broiling vs frying/searing vs baked in a hot oven, is the meat straight from the fridge or do you let it sit out for bit before cooking?

    1. Preposterous! And yet, we had the same experience in our restaurant, with Alle 1/4 lb hamburger patties. But we do not have that experience with burger patties we make ourselves. I believe it has to do with grain and texture of the meat. If it is flattened direct from the grinder, and then burgers stamped out, the extrusion is in one direction, and there is a grain to the burger. If it is made into balls and then flattened out, no grain pattern exists across the entire patty, the the thing shrinks almost uniformly. Also, home-made burger patties tend to become thicker in center upon shrinkage. We make a special point to flatten the center of the patty thinner than the edges to achieve a flat patty upon shinkage.

      1. Certainly not a Kosher-related phenomenon (if a phenomenon at all). There's definitely a "grain" to muscle fibers that would cause differences in final cooked dimensions of a steak (not unlike working with pieces of solid wood), but that would be more evident with whole cuts of meat, once it's ground there's absolutely no rhyme or reason why meat would behave differently in one dimension and not another.

        As a totally non-scientific example, my wife made some excellent nearly-perfectly-circular burgers from glatt beef the other night. Perfectly grilled, by the way.

        1. The pre-made kosher burgers become oval, absolutely. When I make it myself from ground meat, it doesn't happen.

          As to vallevin's point, we have friends who cook both treyf and kosher on the same grill and it happens to them as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DeisCane

            It happens to all the pre made patties that comes from the Alle plant- It has to do with the machine that makes the patty - Alle private lables for many stores- check the USDA #
            It is a weird thing- the patty starts out round & cooks out oval ??? It's the machine that portions it out

          2. I have noticed this ONLY with kosher pre-made patties. I have used non-kosher pre-made patties, and this NEVER happened.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PotatoPuff

              Make a thumbprint in the center of the raw burger. This will eliminate the rounding, treyfe or not treyfe.

              1. re: Marc in Cleveland

                Nope, marc. That doesn't work. The thumbprint helps with keeping it from turning into a meatball. This problem is about becoming an oval.